Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thoughts On My Hair

A note before we begin: This post is about my hair. It's not about anyone else's hair. I spend precious little time thinking about other women's hair. :)

I have had my hair all kinds of ways. My hair is naturally stick straight, but for about a decade there I permed it regularly. I loved perms--made me sad when they went out of style. I've worn my hair short, long, and in between. I'm a bit ashamed to admit it but I was fairly cutting edge back in the day and even had asymmetrical hair for a time. (shudder)

I was of the generation (a lot of you will be able to relate to this!) where your hairstyle was all about the bangs. We curled those bangs and while the curling iron was on our hair, sprayed hair spray DIRECTLY onto the barrel of the curling iron. (insert sizzling sound here) The adjective "crunchy" comes to mind.

When I was a teenager I always used to hear that "guys like long hair." Every male I ever heard talk about girls' hair agreed. I thought "well that's great--but it's not THEIR hair!" I well remember telling my husband early on in our marriage that I would grow my hair out long for him if he would get up early and fix it for me every morning. I said it jokingly of course, but the attitude was "who are you to have an opinion about MY hair?" The word "feminism" comes to mind.

Several years ago I was reading 1 Corinthians 11:3-16. It was a passage of scripture I had certainly read many times before. In the past, I had breezed right past this little passage without giving it much thought. It wasn't that I thought it wasn't "culturally relevant" (a common argument), it's just that I hadn't thought much of it.

With a changed heart and new eyes, I began to study this section of scripture more carefully. I see how folks who believe in wearing head coverings came to their conclusion. And if a woman wears a head covering in obedience to scripture...having studied it herself and come to this conclusion...then I admire her heart for the Lord. I believe the part of the scripture that says, "For long hair is given to her as a covering." (v. 15) But before we get to that...

The really important part of this passage to me is the order of the family. Many people agree with this part of the passage, by the way. "Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." (v. 3) S and I were lucky to be taught this order in high school. It was likened to an umbrella of protection. It's easy to understand, as a teenager, that our parents were under Christ and we were under our parents. When a child rebels against, or steps out from under that order, he or she is unprotected, both physically and spiritually speaking. It is a much different thing to admit, as a wife, that you are under your husband. That's a bit of a stretch away from "modern thinking."

Now this passage is talking about worship--praying and prophesying are mentioned. But there are so many larger truths packed in those paragraphs. The passage goes on to mention, "the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head." (v. 10) It talks about "the very nature of things" (v. 14) and also about long hair being a woman's glory (v. 15). Oh, there is a lot to study in that passage!

And study it I did. I talked with my husband about it too. We studied it together. I DO NOT understand everything in this passage of scripture, let me be clear! But I walked away from it with a different perspective. Doesn't it make sense? A woman has long hair and a man does not. "if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him..." (v. 14). Things were like this for hundreds and hundreds of years. Study the history of women's hair. Study the effects of feminism. (Click on "You've Come a Long Way, Baby!" EXCELLENT!) A sign of authority. My husband is over me. Hmm. Hmm. It had me thinking.

Now, women who don't wish to let their thoughts go in the direction mine went, will probably prefer to think about this verse:
"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7b
I've heard that phrase "God looks at the heart" used when speaking of clothing, modesty, and hair. And I know that it is true. I could have hair longer than anyone and an ugly, disobedient, rebellious heart. I could have the shortest hair ever for a woman and have the most lovely, obedient, submissive heart you could imagine. It truly isn't a "sign of obedience" for a woman to have long hair. It won't tell YOU a thing about me other than the fact that I have grown my hair out.

But with the decision to grow out my hair did come a submissive heart. I did it for the Lord, and for my husband. It was a way of showing that I understood, and accepted, God's order. That's how it started out. Is there a certain length I was going for? Nope. My hair has been what I would consider long for quite some time. I do not grow more spiritual with every inch I add to my hair length. It also had a little to do with cultural rebellion. Yep, I was rebelling against rebelling. Confusing enough for you? Our culture has become too unisex, to masculine, too...a lot of things. Growing my hair out was a return to order for me. A statement that I am feminine (well, somewhat...I'm a work in progress!).

I got used to my long hair and haven't thought about all these reasons for a while. Lately these thoughts have been coming back to me because my hair has gotten just long enough to drive me crazy. You know that length where it gets in your armpits? TMI? :0 NO, I did not say I was growing out armpit hair!!!!

OK--back to the hair is just long enough right now to be a burden. About a month ago I asked S if he would trim it for me in the evening because it was making me crazy. We didn't have time that night and the hair just kept growing. And last week I was really thinking about that burden of long hair.

It reminds me.

It reminds me that I am under my husband (who is under Christ). It reminds me of his and His authority over me. Every time I move my hair out of the way so I can do something, every time I rummage around for a clip to put it up, every time I brush it out....I am reminded.

If I had short hair I could do some things easier. It would give me more independence. More free time. Less worry. Less of a burden.

And I would be my own woman.

But I am not my own. I have a small burden to remind me of the place the Lord has asked me to occupy. And that is why...right now....I'm keeping it just like it is.


  1. It's not good to make me think at midnight, Brenda.

    Well-written. I will have to come back for a second, more-thorough read when I am better rested.

  2. My hair isn't NEARLY as long as yours (thankfully, it's just shoulder length) and amazingly, I've thought of cutting it because it would be so much easier if it was shorter. But I know my husband prefers the length. That same verse of Scripture catches me up short every time I think about it.

    I could say more, but you've given me a lot to chew on here. Besides, I'm only on this 'puter because I'm SUPPOSED to be putting the finishing touches on the hewsletter for the Helps ministry at church. Way to stay on task, huh? Seeing as the first quarter of 2009 is only 10 days away, I'd better get back to work!

    Have a Merry Christmas Brenda!

  3. Excellent thoughts, Brenda. I really appreciate your views. I have had long hair for a few years now, but this post definitely made me think more about why and what it signifies. :-)

  4. It's awesome to see others who understand the symbolism of a woman's hair. Great post Brenda.

  5. I being of short hair and unthinking mind...

    no really, this is a very well written, thought out post. I have of course seen said scripture and personally have a hubbie who prefers short hair, but i had it long most of my growning up years becasue of my dads preference. My hubbie likes my hair so I am assuming that puts me in the right place for me but I do love that you have absolutely come to peace with your hair situation! I think that thinking on things, and wondering and re hashing is hard on a person's spirit and heart and to come to your solid conslusion that you will leave your hair the way it is must be very liberating!

    See we "feminist" can be liberated!

  6. I came across your blog during a google search, and I have to tell you that I am so impressed by what you've shared of your thoughts and of your heart. Truly, God alone can see our hearts, and we can only see the effects of other people's hearts. It's very cool when you can see a little bit of someone's heart in the way they behave or speak. Especially when that heart is seeking God. I must share this with others. Thank you for thinking out loud.

  7. Wow - what a thought provoking post! Thanks!

  8. I would love to see a picture of your hair. I have been growing mine long for the same reasons. I do layer it though and every so often (read "once a year") I get my sister to give me an all over trim. I think she always cuts too much off when she is "evening it out" so it never seems to get much longer than my shoulders. I do a french twist when it is getting in my way.


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)